Tim Dooley, Jeff Foster, Carolyn Dutton, and Tammera Lane of Celtica. photo by Marti Garvey
by Paige Harden
Tammera Lane’s lifelong passion for music began with a white piano and an old fashioned swivel stool with a red velvet cushion.
“When I was a little girl, I was visiting my grandma, who took a pie to an elderly lady in her church. The woman had an old upright piano. Later, she told my grandma that she noticed I kept looking at the piano, and asked if I would want it,” Tammera said. “So I got a piano—not the white one with the pretty velvet seat, but a dark brown one. None-the-less, that’s how I got my start in music.”
She began piano lessons at age seven and later majored in piano performance at Taylor University.
After college, Tammera got a job at a Brown County folk instrument shop. As part of her job, Tammera was asked to learn how to play numerous instruments so she could demonstrate and sell them. Her new-found talent and her love of Medieval/Renaissance era music led Tammera to found her band called “Celtica” in 1992.
“We decided on “Celtica” because it gave us freedom to include music from all the Celtic lands, and also clued people in as to what type of music we played,” Tammera said. “We call it progressive Celtic to have the legitimate freedom to do what we want with the arrangements.”
Celtica performed for seven years, then took a break in 1999, and regrouped in 2009. Today, Celtica is going strong and includes the following band members: Tammera Lane (piano, hammered dulcimer, double-bowed psaltrey, hurdy gurdy, Celtic harp, and vocals); Tim Dooley (guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, Irish bodhran drum, and vocals); Carolyn Dutton (fiddle); and Jeff Foster (guitar). Clancy Clements plays bagpipes and penny whistles with Celtica, and Tom Lozano plays the hurdy gurdy and percussion.
“It’s exhilarating to play with such an extremely talented group of musicians,” Tammera said. “Carolyn performed violin/fiddle in New York for 30 years, in many various genres, such as classical, gypsy jazz, folk, etc. Jeff can play guitar upside down and backwards. He plays classical, flamenco, jazz, rock, blues, and has taught on the collegiate level. Tom is a world-renown hurdy gurdy player.”
Tammera said she prefers performing as a band.
“I like ensemble work, probably for the element of surprise. It’s really fun and interesting to see what others bring to a tune,” she said. “I can stand alone as a soloist, but it’s much more enjoyable to play off of others.”
No matter the form, Tammera said music completes her.
“I love playing music, especially the kind of music I play, and when I can be creative and improvise. Somehow it completes who I am, more than anything else does. I’ve dabbled in various art forms—visual arts, dance, theatre, and none of the other forms, though I really enjoy them, does what music does inside me,” she said. “It’s exhilarating, magical, passionate, deep—complete. I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s like I’m doing what I was created to do.”
While three of the band members live in Brown County, Celtica meets once a week to practice, and performs as many as 50 shows a year.
The band performs at home parties as well as prestigious affairs including International and Fortune 500 corporate dinners, The Indianapolis Children’s Museum, Artsgarden In Circle Centre Mall, The Indiana State Museum, Chautauqua of the Arts, the Scottish Festival and Ethnic Expo in Columbus, the Highland Festival in Trafalgar, and at half-time for the Indiana Pacers. They even performed at a dinner with a guest list that included former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.
Martha Tedrowe, of Brown County, has been a long-time Celtica fan.
“I have long been a fan of international music. When I lived in Chicago I spent much of my free time at the Old Town School of Folk Music, where I was the volunteer coordinator. The school featured concerts with musical groups from all over the world,” Martha said. “Irish music is the basis of many modern forms of music and Tammera and her band carry on this important art form. Tammera is scholarly in her approach to her music and plays beautifully.”
Brown County, Martha says, is the perfect place for a band like Celtica.
“Brown County is a special place, with its wonderful topography, scenic beauty, and numerous artists in residence of a variety of media.”